Sunday, December 11, 2005

Leaving Singapore

Let me have another go at a fairly teneous but free connection from Changi airport where I am currently waiting for my flight to Mumbai.
As anticipated I had a good time in Singapore with lots of shopping at Sim Lim plaza, I got myself a new palm Tx5 which has wireless capability, and lunch at the Tanglin club with Digna.
Digna is the wife of Neil a colleage of mine in PNG she runs a gallery of beautiful Burmese laquerware and yes I did buy some. Now I have to figure out how to get it back to NZ, difficult as it's rather large, but I am sure I'll wprk it out. In the meantime it stays at their place as I certainly wasn't going to carry it through India.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


This is indeed a test an attempt to use the WiFi connection on my palm to update my blog. If it works I'll try for a general update later today.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Back in black.

After a long hiatus I will try to update my blog.
My excuse for not writing is a change of job and a firewall that stops me doing updates from work.
In May the construction manager for the project resigned abruptly due to the stress his work caused him and I filled his position in the interim. A few weeks and some reorganizational changes later, I received my new appointment as Site Developments Manager.
Since then it's been chaotically busy for most of the time and my improvisation talents have been severely tested by anything from land owners disruptions to lightning strikes but I seem to have adjusted ok and overcome the stress and anxiety.
The project itself has gathered up speed we finished the work on the North west Moran Pipeline and are now making good progress on the South East Mananda one and while there is still a fair way to go it looks now good for a finish early next year.
A review of cost and schedule took place in September and October with the reality finally sinking in at board level that if it rains for five months and you didn't allow for that in your schedule it’s going to both cost more and take longer. I guess they will pay more attention to ongoing project work next time!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Back to the future

Currently I am Brisbane airport. My next flight to Port Moresby should leave in about forty minutes and all being well I will be back in Sisibia tonight around seven o'clock.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ear again

I felt absolutely lousy yesterday and am still not much better today. My right ear is now infected and hurts and I can't hear with it. On days like this I feel that Neal Stephenson's description in Cryptonomicon is quite applicable.

"It would be an idyllic tropical paradise if not for the malaria, the insects, the constant diarrheal and resulting haemorrhoids and the fact that the people are dirty and smell bad and eat each other and use human heads for decoration."

On other days I quite enjoy it out here.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Had a lousy nights sleep last night mulling over potential problems on the job.

Normally nothing happens when you do that but just for a change this time did. At about 8.00 we were informed that a group of landowners had invaded one of our camps in the bush and we were told to remove our camp from their land and stop work. So we put a plan into action that did just that. We removed the camp in question and all the other camps from the bush run. Used helicopters to remove all our heavy equipment. Fired the locally hired work force and flew our supervisors out.

All good so far.


The Huli are not known for their laid back nature so this morning I was getting the first messages from our security department that things were afoot in the Toma area.
Apparently some of the people that lost their job had marched on the village of the landowners involved in the stoppage and tried to burn one of the landowners his car. Another group was said to moving towards Moro to take their frustration out on the company.

No information of anything untoward in Sisibia so we feel quite safe out here. Having twenty well armed police, who are feared widely by the locals, does add to the comfort factor.

Friday, April 01, 2005

(H)ear (H)ear

Well the antibiotics must be working. My hearing is slowly returning although my ear is still sore. Nice not to have to listen to the echo of my own voice though.

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Roger comes in arms flapping and frothing at the mouth, nothing unusual about that.

"The units that came out of Indonesia are useless, we should not pay a cent for them"
"What are you talking about?"
"None of them fit, they all have the wrong connections"
"Are we talking about ablution blocks?"
"Yes the McDowell once at Hegigio"
"What's the problem?"
"Three of the four toilets are blocked!"
"They have three inch outlets instead of four inch!"
"Well the guys that are staying at the camp use a whole roll of toilet paper every time and then flush whole roll card board and all through the toilet"

"Now I understand, I don't think a four inch outlet would make any difference, you better get a plumber"

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I am currently suffering from complete hearing loss in my left ear. On Saturday I was getting a bit of an earache on Sunday it was getting painful but I was on my way to PNG and decided it wasn't worth cancelling my flights for, on Monday night it was painful enough to keep me awake but still more flights to go. This morning it hurt slightly less but I was profoundly deaf in one ear.

OK first order of the day was to see our doctor who has given me two kinds of pills to take, one a pain killer the other one an antibiotic to get rid of the ear infection. The prognosis for recovery is good but I am still deaf as a door nail and can hear my own voice echoing in my head whenever I speak.

Home and away.

Back in Sisibia again after a lovely time in Auckland with Bronwyn and the kids. Daniel and I spent most of our time together in the hotel swimming pool. He is well and truly over his fear of getting his hair wet and enthusiastically dived for stones from the bottom of the pool, helpfully dropped in there by his sister.

Auckland was a pleasant break from Whangarei and Bron and I discussed the merits of buying a property in Devenport to be close to the shops and caf├ęs it seems a little excessive for that though.

So back to Whangarei and what a drama the motorway was packed with traffic and at many a place we were lucky to do three kilometres an hour. I was knackered by the time we got home.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Let's try for a bit of an update.

The days are fairly routine at the moment, get up at five in the morning, have a shower, shave and breakfast then deal with the emails that have come in overnight from those with insomnia or in other timezones. Discuss site security ,who is threatening who, are all our work areas open and accesible, which crews need armed protection etc. The following conversation is typical.

Eric "What's happening today?"
Terry " Some people at the watersource are threatening delta crew"
Eric "verbal or do they want to chop them?"
Terry "They say stop work and the men are afraid"
Eric "Will they chop them?"
Terry "Maybe"
John "What are we going to do about it?"
Terry "I'll go down and talk to them"
John "Will you take some police?"
Terry "I'll take one mobile squad"
Eric "Any other problems"
Terry " No everything else is quiet"

Funnily enough when people are trying to do the right thing we seem to end up in trouble as well. The other day for example one of our bush labourers fell ill and arranged for his brother to do his work. An excellent arrangement in his mind. Of course half way during the day when one of our expat supervisors caught up with the crew and realised that there was someone he didn't recognise we had to tell him to stop working as he didn't have safety gear, hadn't been given a medical fitness test and wasn't inducted. Seems like sometimes you just can't do the right thing.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Holy floor.

As I expected for some time now the pressure on our current accommodation is stretching facilities beyond their breaking point. In this case quite literally after the floor in one of the shower blocks caved in and an employee disappeared with it. Luckily no one injured as far as I know but obviously we need to get some work done on the rotting timber, like have it replaced.

FW: Holy floor.

As I expected for some time now the pressure on our current accommodation is stretching facilities beyond their breaking point. In this case quite literally after the floor in one of the shower blocks caved in and an employee disappeared with it. Luckily no one injured as far as I know but obviously we need to get some work done on the rotting timber, like have it replaced.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Back on the job.

After some luckily uneventful flights I made it to Brisbane on Monday morning in time for the weekly controls meeting and a whole host of subsequent meetings and gatherings that were on the whole fairly productive. Then yesterday I did the long trek to Sisibia where as a form of welcome it was raining cats and dogs. Now I am sitting looking at the three hundred or so emails that have collected in my inbox during my absence.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Another fine day.

The title says it all. It's another gorgeous day here and having just finished breakfast at mochaba we are now getting ready for a day on the beach.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Holy Syrup

Daniel is going to a Catholic school and is now starting to pick up on some of their creed. From time to time he demonstrates this by attempting to make the sign of the cross and intoning "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Syrup." Ah well I guess it's a start.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


I have returned home on one of my regular irregular breaks last Saturday and will be leaving again for Sydney on Sunday, Brisbane on Monday and PNG on Wednesday.
The weather in NZ has been fantastic dry, sunny but not to hot. Real Northland summer weather. Really makes me wonder why I am sweating it out in the PNG jungle. Must be the money I guess.


Sorry folks it's been almost a month since I last updated my blog. I'll try to be a bit more conscientious about it in the future.
I am not going to try and relate everything that has happened during that period other then to say I was rather busy at work.
Anyway from here we shall go forward.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

First day back at work

9.10 Advised that a man with a gun has threatened Joe and Jim at the wellpad near the lookout.
9.15 Called Shane on the radio and asked him to return to the office
9.16 Requested security to get Chris or Dennis to call me.
9.23 Advised the plant supervisor of the APF of a "shooter" in the area.
9.24 Dennis returned my phone call and will organise mobile squad to go down.
10.26 John, our security manager, believes the shooter is actually a person he knows and is going down to the wellhead to "sort it out"

Well they didn't find the guy but it appears it is all related to a tribal killing in 1964, they have long memories out here. The reason our people were held up seems to be more by accident then design.

Anyway plenty of excitement for a first day back at work.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another flying visit.

I am on my way to PNG again after the briefest of visits home. Last Tuesday I spent all day on the plane and being harrassed by various check-in drones about my passport and the fact that I have visae in both my old and new passports. Anyway Wednesday morning I was back in NZ and greeted by friends and family at the airport. The last few days were passed playing with Daniel who has definitly improved his communication skills over the last month, it is good to see some progress.
Unfortunately as I wrote earlier it was a very short visit and yesterday afternoon I flew back to Sydney and right now I am waiting for my flight to Port Moresby.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Another strike.

We haven't had any labour unrest for at  least five days now. So it had to happen, we mobilised our pipe support crew to the start of the bush run and voila up jumped a bunch of people saying "no you can't work here". I should have known that this would happen as all the community affairs people strategically disappeared from the office this morning. So now we are running around finding them as well as the management from our subcontractor. Things just never are easy out here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Flying visit.

A small flying fox somehow got into our office. I made a few half hearted attempts to catch it but then one of our local employees came around and caught it on his first try. It took some persuasion to get him to let it go again rather then turn it in a snack but eventually the beast was released unharmed to join his brethren out in a tree somewhere.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Yesterday at four in the afternoon the wind picked up and I decided to get a bit of a cool breeze on the veranda for a moment. Then the wind really started moving and spinning and while I was still thinking micro burst it lifted the roof clean of the medical centre's veranda. Three minutes later the wind died away and on inspection we found that no one had been hurt and with the exception of a few loose sheets of roofing iron the camp had sustained no additional damage.

Strikes, storms and sabotage we've got it all.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


There was a fight outside the gate to the camp a minute or so ago. One guy got knocked stone cold unconscious.
No idea what the argument was about.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Most applicable to PNG.

Still the world is wondrous large,
seven seas from marge to marge,
And it holds a vast of various kinds of man;
And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu,
And the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Swings and roundabouts.

The day started out with part of our workforce still on strike and demanding a letter of apology, not sure for what, thousand Kina and a pig. After lots of talking they eventually went back to work around eleven in the morning and we got a letter of apology from them for causing us trouble. No sign of a pig though.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The evening report.

Well we are still in stand-off mode, the strikers now want compensation for being on strike, a pig and one thousand Kina (that's about five hundred Australian dollars). Our counter offer is that we won't fire those that have gone back to work. I don't expect much more happening this evening so we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Update 1

Midday now and the blockade is lifted but they refuse to let anyone go to work. We tried to force the issue by driving that part of the workforce that was willing to work up the road but all vehicles got stopped and turned around. John is currently trying to negotiate with them but it looks to me like we might have to send the police in to secure the work front.

Another blockade

Another day another issue. We have stopped those people that don't have an ID card from coming into the gate as we had more and more locals turning up for breakfast. So now they have barricaded us in again. As it turns out they were also using the ice from our ice machine to keep the cokes cold that they are selling at the front gate. There is a bit of an issue there anyway as I hadn't realised our local guards have muscled in on that business line and were trying to stop the use of ice by others then themselves. We'll see what happens next. Normally they tire after a while of pushing and shoving and everybody foes back to work as if nothing happened.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A beautiful day.

Another beautiful day. Our workforce went to work without complaint, much to my surprise, and production is up.
Anyway that gave me the opportunity for a quick tour of the countryside.
Twenty minutes flying from here is Walagu village where we are recruiting some of our labour from and it is one of the nicer villages I have seen both in and outside PNG. It is clean and the well looked after houses are for 99% built in the traditional manner with woven sides and thatch roofs and the village elders prohibit smoking in their village. An interesting fact is that first contact with these people was only made in 1970 and they were a feared group of cannibals at that time. Even now their witchdoctor is apparently taken very seriously by the other people in the area and when we did the negotiations with the various clans for the heads of agreement for this project the other participants refused to sleep in the same room as the representative from Walagu.